eWr Hall of Fame
Currently, the Wigan Warriors have 15 members in their Hall of Fame: Eric Ashton, Dean Bell, Billy Boston, Frano Botica, Colin Clarke, Shaun Edwards, Joe Egan, Andrew Farrell, Ellery Hanley, Ken Gee, Andy Gregory, Brian McTigue, Sean O'Loughlin, Martin Offiah and of course, Jim Sullivan. One or two of those names are questionable as to why they are there but, we will let that slide. Sean O'Loughlin was inducted into the HoF in 2020 and is currently the last member to join that club.
But, the Wigan Rugby Football Club has had plenty more players who are more than worthy of a place in any Hall of Fame. The oldest member currently inducted is Jim Sullivan, who signed for Wigan in 1921. Joe Egan and Brian McTigue graced Central Park in the 1940s and 1950s. What about before these men? The Wigan club has been around since 1879 yet 3 players have been inducted from the club's first 71 years of service. This of course, has to change.
earlyWIGANrugby has always set out to simply celebrate those men and people who made the club what it is today. Without some in the earlier days, we wouldn't enjoy watching rugby league in this town today! Here, we will celebrate our own Hall of Fame and give a snippet of a story as to why they are held in high regard and why they should be worthy of joining the Wigan Warriors "15".
James Slevin ~ 1879-1891
James Slevin was one of the founder members of the current Wigan Warrior club back in September 1879. He made over 290 appearances for Wigan in a career spanning three decades from 1879-1891. He also made two more cameo appearances for Wigan in 1893 and 1897 and holds Heritage No. 48 in the club's official list, along with with No. 4.1 in the pre-Northern Union list.
Jim's career is extensive and became a Legend not only in the town but in Northern rugby circles. During his time at Wigan, Jim won 8 major honours and scored over 131 tries. If included in today's stats, Jim would rank #20 in tries scored, behind the great Trevor Lake.
Captain Slevin made sure Wigan remained a rugby town. His jersey is thought to be the oldest surviving Wigan jersey in existence and is still kept lovingly by his family.
James Leytham ~ 1903-1912
Jimmy Leytham was a superstar of pre-War rugby. Thousands of rugbyites flocked to rugby grounds across the North to see Jim play. Hailing from Lancaster, the struggling Wigan club signed him in 1903 and the rest, they say, is history. Capped by Lancashire and Great Britain, Leytham was the perfect captain and spearheaded Wigan's first series of Northern Union successes. Captaining Wigan during the 1908-09 season, he lifted no less than four major trophies that season in a backline that included Joe Miller, Bert Jenkins and Lance Todd: the Greatest backline Wigan has ever had.
Leytham sits at No. 5 in Wigan's all time try scoring charts with 258, and at No. 17 in the goal kicking charts with 267.
He also set the record for most tries for Great Britain in a match with four against Australia in 1910, and also jointly holds the England record, again scoring four tries.
Johnny Thomas ~ 1904-1919
Half-back Johnny Thomas had a career at Wigan spanning three decades between 1904-1920, making 388 appearances, scoring 108 tries and 439 goals and gaining 12 major honours with the Wigan club.
Thomas was one of the first names of the team sheet and enquiries happened when he was absent from the starting line up at Central Park. His success continued on the International scene, representing Wales and Great Britain, as well as earning caps for Glamorgan ad Lancashire whilst at Wigan.
Thomas was the key to success alongside his half-back partner Fred Gleave in Wigan's famous 1908-09 season when they won four major honours.
Johnny Ring ~ 1922-1931
Before we had Billy Boston, we had a gent named Johnny Ring. His try scoring record is literally "second-to-one". In 331 Wigan matches, Ring notched up a total of 368 tries, second only to Boston.
During the 1925-6 season, when Wigan recorded a Championship win, Ring set a club record of 62 tries in a season.
Ring had scored a total of 7 tries in a match one three occasions, a record that was eventually broken in 1992 by Martin Offiah (and Shaun Edwards). He holds a total of 39 hat-tricks to his name, again only bettered by his fellow Welshman Billy Boston.
Wigan, with Jim Sullivan at fullback and kicking the goals, and Johnny Ring on the wing scoring the tries, were formidable in the inter-war period.